This past weekend Terri and I downloaded and watched the movie Marley and Me. It’s the story of a columnist for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, his family and the labrador retriever he and his wife purchased when they were first married. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I recommend you do so; just bring a lot of tissues.
Watching the movie led me to think about the dogs I have been acquainted with. My first dog was a beautiful collie named, of course, Lassie. One summer, without telling my mother or father, my brother purchased her from a breeder near Ocala. I knew my mother did not want a dog to take care of and Lassie, the runt of the litter, was not yet weaned. After a week of sleepless nights, the pup was returned to the breeder to be with her mother for a couple more weeks.
Lassie was a very smart animal and my close friend. As that summer went by we spent all of our days together; two pups blessed with long days to explore, fish and swim. When school started, Lassie couldn’t understand what happened to her playmate. One day she followed me to school and my mother had to come and pick her up. The next day I was sitting in my third-grade class and there was a scratching on the door. When the teacher opened it, Lassie walked in, greeted me and settled down next to my desk. Of course, she was a distraction and again my mother had to come and collect Lassie. The next day, again the scratching at the door and the scene from the following day was repeated. This time the teacher relented and Lassie spent the next week attending school with me. Unfortunately, when the principal discovered there was a collie attending the third grade, Lassie was relegated to waiting for me to return home.
My second dog was a brown haired, twenty-five pound, mixed breed who appeared at our back door. Hungry and somewhat dirty, he took up residence in our garage and after a week of sampling my mother’s leftovers, he decided to adopt us. Since he was living with us he needed a name and observing that he was brown and a dog, my dad named him Brown Dog.
Although my father was in the business, we didn’t have air conditioning; afterall, we moved to the lake in the summer, so why waste the money? My mother had converted the downstairs bedroom into a “television room” and convinced my father to have a used window air conditioning unit installed; and of course, for the cooling to work, the doors to the room had to remain closed. After living the stray life, Brown Dog was all for comfort, so he would lie in front of the door leading to the cooled space; and when the door opened, oblivious of anyone in the way he would dash into the room. Once in that comfortable space, no amount of begging, bribing or cajoling could get him to leave. So, the only way to get him to leave was to pick him up and carry him out; and when you tried to do so, he would let his whole body become limp and would whine as if he were being tortured. In the hot months before and after summer vacation, this scene would be repeated time and again.
There have been a number of dogs in my life. All of who have quirks, idiosyncrasies and weirdness that have led me to believe that dogs are funny people. We remember them as we recall other family members; everyone has a dog story and reminiscing provides both laughs and sadness. Dogs and people come in and out of our lives and leave lasting impressions that shape who we are. For this reason, we should cherish the family, friends and associates who, like our dog friends, are positive, constructive and caring.
Let us know your favorite dog story. You can easily send it to us by clicking on “Post Letter” next to my picture on the left column of this newsletter.
“A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.” – Robert Benchley
“If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.” – Robert Caras